Hey folks. I have alot on my mind as I initiate yet another cross- country move tomorrow. This time, I’ll be heading to LA (with a pit-stop in NC) for graduate school in the fall. Aside from that, my mind is in a bit of a clutter after seeing two equally disturbing videos of young black women who are daughters of well known figures. Maia Campbell, daughter of noted author Bebe Moore Campbell (RIP), and Montana Fishburne, daughter of noted actor Laurence Fishburne. Both have been catapulted into the blogosphere spotlight for “funny,” “crackhead” behavior that seems to reflect deeper issues.
Maia Campbell, who you may remember as Tiffany on the UPN TV show “In the House,” caused controversy when she was videotaped in a man’s car rambling, ranting, appearing incoherent, messy, and seemingly intoxicated and/or drug-induced. Montana Fishburne has recently launched a porn career in order to make her way in the entertainment business, follow in the footsteps of Kim Kardashian, and become a “well-respected” actress. I’m not here to merely recycle myths and rumors about these woman, which is what many blogs and sites have been doing, and what I take serious issue with. Instead, I think the public reaction to these women and their conditions and behaviors reflect alot about the state of our society and culture at the present moment.
These days, everything seems to become a youtube, bossip, or huffington post video. People have seemingly traded in common sense, a need to intervene (in cases of extreme violence and abuse), or the act of caring about the well-being of another, in order to record what otherwise wouldn’t be. In many cases, these “guerilla” videos serve as proper checks and balances in society, especially in the case of law enforcement injustice (i.e. Oscar Grant) and other societal abuses. However, many times they are not intended to reveal or bring attention to something that needs to be stopped. In the case of the aforementioned women, they only help to instigate, inflame, and increase the volatility of such situations.
I read numerous blogs, websites, and “news” headlines likening Maia Campbell to a crackhead, a prostitute, and a junky. These “stories” all come complete with videos of her engaging in what clearly are manic episodes, indicative of someone suffering from a mental illness such as bipolar disorder. The people recording these videos of her can be heard laughing and having a grand time showcasing her mania. The latest video is particularly disturbing. In the case of Montana, we hear a male jovially ask her banal questions regarding her budding porn career.
I’m not going to do that here. On this blog, there will be no links to videos of these women for the sole reason to further humiliate them and turn their situations into comedy. There is nothing funny about capturing videos of bipolar young women who self-medicate with drugs, or young women who view their body as the sole way they can carve out an acting career. So instead of laughing and pushing “record” on a video camera, we should maybe try caring. Not just about these two women, though their stories warrant concern. It’s about understanding the deeper issues that Maia and Montana’s “videos” highlight in the black community, and in other communities as well. Many black people suffer from mental illnesses; conditions that go undiagnosed due to communal stigmas attached to treatment options, amidst a myriad of other factors. Maia Campbell is just one representative of the mental health crisis in this community. Many times these people are labeled as crackheads or crazy, when there are deep psychological scars stemming from genetics, economics, racism, and other personal factors. As in Maia’s case, drugs become the obvious choice of medication.
In the case of Montana Fishburne, many folks seem to be more invested in wondering where Laurence Fishburne went “wrong” as a father or if she “measures” up physically with Kim Kardashian, whom she wishes to emulate. But those concerns seem to ignore the crux of why her pursuing a porn career is a bit disturbing in the first place. After all, if she wanted to get into Hollywood that bad, she could probably call her father and arrange something. The bigger issue lies within more and more young women (not just Montana) viewing their bodies as their sole contributions to their careers as entertainers. All this is perpetuated and spurred on by an increasing age of sex-tape turned “stars,” tv housewives, jersey shore/ Real World sex shows, youtube video frenzy, and a bevy of other instant-gratification media outlets.
So my aim here is not to admonish people and their use of current technology, but to question how that technology and media is being used. Simply recording problematic and troubling content just for the sake of perpetuating ignorance and comedy, is not okay. My mother recently emailed me a link to a video showing a pregnant black woman fighting four people in a Burger King parking lot in Oakland. I refused to watch due to the proliferation of videos like this. Instead of recording this, why not attempt to stop the fight where an innocent fetus could be harmed? Why not engage in a dialogue about how cameras can be used to uplift and not dehumanize. Why not start a dialogue about mental health, rather than laugh at someone who clearly needs help? Why not care?